Pianist, leader, composer.
(December 2, 1905 - July 25, 1995)
Full name: Osvaldo Pedro Pugliese
is father, Adolfo, worker in the shoe industry, as an amateur flutist he played in quartets which dug tango in vicinity. Two elder brothers played the violin: Vicente Salvador, "Fito", and Alberto Roque, the latter was more involved han the former and was linked to music for several years. It was his father who taught him his first music lessons, he started his first steps with violin too, but soon he switched to piano, although it took don Adolfo a certain time to buy the expensive instrument. After being trained at Conservatories nearby, at fifteen he started professionally at the "Café de La Chancha", so called by the customers in allusion to the lack of hygiene of the owner.
Sometime later, then at a known café in downtown Buenos Aires, he took part in the group of the first female bandoneonist in tango, Francisca "Paquita" Bernardo. Going on with his career, Osvaldo entered Enrique Pollet quartet, later he played in the famous Roberto Firpo orchestra, and in 1927 he was pianist in the great bandoneonist Pedro Maffia's orchestra. He together with the violinist Elvino Vardaro left it to form a group under their name which we know was avant-garde for the time, but it has not left recordings. Vardaro-Pugliese had their debut at the café Nacional, to engage in a long tour across the country. They were accompanied by the poet Eduardo Moreno, as manager and Malena de Toledo, as female singer after Moreno's suggestion. Moreno was the lyricist of "Recuerdo", the most successful tango composed by Pugliese. The tour turned out a financial failure and Vardaro had to pawn his "Sartoris" bow to pay the return tickets. Later, Pugliese in association with another violinist, Alfredo Gobbi, formed a group where one of the bandoneon players was the very young Aníbal Troilo. That venture lasted a few months and after that he formed his own team thanks to an opportunity to play in a couple of locals. Afterwards he took part in two duets, firstly with Gobbi and later with Vardaro, to perform on radio broadcasts. In 1934, when the bandoneonist Pedro Laurenz -ex member of De Caro's team, like Maffia- assembled an orchestra, Pugliese was on piano. On this occasion he wrote the first arrangements for some tangos, among these was "La beba", which belongs to his inspiration. In 1936 he was member of the bandoneonist Miguel Caló's group, still in the De Caro stream, and in this way he was nurturing his aesthetic ideas concerning tango. Until 1938 Pugliese put together new formations which did not last, and tried unsuccessfully to consolidate a cooperative working society as an expression of his Communist ideas.
His definitive projection towards the tango he conceived commenced on August 11, 1939, when he reappeared at the café Nacional. Amadeo Mandarino was the singer in his brand new orchestra. After a time he reorganized the group, then with Augusto Gauthier as vocalist. Pugliese was leader, pianist and arranger of a group which this time was working as a cooperative society. From a café placed in the Villa Crespo neighborhood they switched to the most important broadcast of the time, Radio El Mundo, so giving origin to an important group of followers made up of fans of his style and adepts of the Communist party.
Continuity in his labour allowed him to shape his conception supported by his partners, such as the bass player Aniceto Rossi, so important for the rhythmic drive he needed. Osvaldo Ruggiero, a bandoneonist who remained with Pugliese until 1968, deeply immersed in the leader's ideas, was essential. So can be said of the violinist Enrique Camerano, born as someone said- to play with Pugliese. Pugliese was becoming the most faithful example of the De Caro style, but with a strong rhythmic beat, very appealing to the dancers but without sacrificing quality.
Orquesta Osvaldo Pugliese
Of the greatest importance was, when his orchestra finally recorded in 1943, the arrival of Roberto Chanel, tough singer, with nasal sound and "compadrito" style, who left 31 recordings. To achieve a contrast, Pugliese included Alberto Morán as vocalist because of his dramatism, sensuality, his rare quality for the mezza voce and perfect match with the orchestral accompaniment. His appeal on women has never been equaled by any other singer. Morán left 48 recorded songs. Between 1949 and 1950, Jorge Vidal, another of the popular voices in the history of this orchestra, recorded only eight. Among the subsequent singers outstand, although with repertories of irregular quality, Jorge Maciel and Miguel Montero.
In the 40s Pugliese recorded some instrumental pieces of his own which anticipated the avant-garde. Such is the case of "La yumba" (which became a sort of anthem of his orchestra), "Negracha" and "Malandraca". Because of these two latter, he is regarded as a pioneer in the use of syncopation and counterpoint prior to Horacio Salgán and Astor Piazzolla. Other important tangos Pugliese composed and played are, above all, the aforementioned "Recuerdo", and "La beba", "Adiós Bardi", "Recién", "Barro", "Una vez" and "El encopao".
Through years, Osvaldo Pugliese orchestra was banned for broadcasting as a means of political censorship but it did not succeed in diminishing his popular acceptance.